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date: 23 October 2019

Sierra, Robertolocked

  • Laurie Shulman

Extract

(b Vega Baja, PR, Oct 9, 1953). American composer. He studied at the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music (1969–76) and the University of Puerto Rico (1971–6). He continued his studies abroad, first at the RCM (1976–8) and then at the Institute for Sonology in Utrecht (1978–9). From 1979 to 1982, he worked with Ligeti at the Hamburg Hochschule für Musik. He returned to Puerto Rico in 1982 and spent seven years in administration at the University of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rico Conservatory. Sierra first achieved recognition in 1987 when the Milwaukee SO gave the première of Júbilo at Carnegie Hall. Two years later, he became that orchestra's composer-in-residence, a post he held until 1992, when he began to teach at Cornell University.

As Sierra's style has evolved, he has synthesized European modernism – with Ligeti, he developed an abstract thought process – with elements of Puerto Rican and Latin American folksong, jazz, salsa and African rhythms, a process he calls ‘tropicalization’. Although the descriptive Spanish phrases of his titles may sometimes appear to indicate the character of the music, complex textures and intricate rhythms can belie such implications. Latin American dance rhythms such as the ...

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